“Dear Mr. Mullen,” the letter state. “The downtown Buffalo office market is presently over 30% vacant. The recent Militello survey doesn’t include totally vacant buildings. Office rents are the same as they were in the early 90’s. The downtown Buffalo tax base has fallen dramatically since the melt down of Goldome and Empire Banks. While costs have risen in excess of inflation. The largest tenant downtown, HSBC Bank and their attorneys are considering relocating from their present location to other sites hopefully in the downtown area. That will leave approximately 800,000 square feet of Class A office space vacant.”
It goes on to lay a number of failure of Buffalo ecponomic development efforts at the feet of Congressman Brian Higgins, the ESDC, various local politicos and “the elitist press.”
The Politicker has reached out to Paladino-watchers in Buffalo, who say that Paladino is on the outs with Byron Brown, the current mayor, and is inveighing against economic development efforts that seem to no longer include him. Paladino became a favorite figure in the area for his willingness to take on some of the entrenched powers, and not only does he seem eager to start throwing spitballs again, but he seems anxious to return to the political conversation.
“Our politically corrupt State government and its “challenged” elected officials through its various agencies and authorities has violated the Constitution repeatedly over the years,” he writes, adding. “There are ways for the State to have a positive affect on development which are never followed.”
Full letter below:
Carl P. Paladino
Attorney at Law
295 Main St, Suite 210
Buffalo, NY 14203
December 14, 2010
Empire State Development Corporation
30 South Pearl Street
Albany, NY 12207-3425
Dear Mr. Mullen:
The downtown Buffalo office market is presently over 30% vacant. The recent Militello survey doesn’t include totally vacant buildings. Office rents are the same as they were in the early 90’s. The downtown Buffalo tax base has fallen dramatically since the melt down of Goldome and Empire Banks. While costs have risen in excess of inflation. The largest tenant downtown, HSBC Bank and their attorneys are considering relocating from their present location to other sites hopefully in the downtown area. That will leave approximately 800,000 square feet of Class A office space vacant.
What was to be a canal side project at lower Main Street with Bass Pro as an anchor has melted down to a 3-story hole-in-the ground and a mix mash of dream plans by non-developer parasites and a News columnist who thinks he knows everything.
Congressman Brian Higgins, motivated only by an out of control ego, gave Bass Pro a 2 week ultimatum to sign documents blaming them for 10 years of bad faith negotiations.
Higgins conveniently overlooked the fact that Bass Pro CEO Johnny Morris was compelled to deal with intellectually challenged City development people during the years of dealing with the Masiello administration. He finally threw up his arms in disgust. Then Mindy Rich sought out Larry Quinn to try to salvage the project. Larry was subjected to a relentless onslaught by the News, Esmond, Tielman and their gang of yahoo dreamers forcing the project to be moved here, there and wherever and be redesigned numerous times. After the site was finally agreed upon and documents were being negotiated Higgins, without consultation with any development people, decided to give his ultimatum.
The decision to let Bass Pro go was as bad, if not worse, that the other lame decisions of the past to locate a football stadium in the snow belt and to allow UB to build its campus out in the fields of Amherst.
Now the project is relegated to an agency chairman desperately trying to satisfy incompetent dreamers who don’t have a clue how to put a development project together nor do they have any money at stake. We’ve done this before with the Peace Bridge project, traffic on Main Street, the convention center, etc.
Attached hereto is a letter that I wrote concerning the Bass Pro debacle which our elitist press did not feel appropriate to print.
It was during the UDAG (Urban Development Action Grant) era that it became very apparent that government interference in the private marketplace subsidizing specific projects for parasitic developers was a road to failure. No one could compete with government subsidized projects and the creation of an unlevel playing field destroyed many good and in some cases historic properties in downtown Buffalo.
Everyone just waited in line for a UDAG. There was no incentive for the private sector to develop. Since that time, the ridiculous use of selective subsidies in the office market has continued the blight of our urban centers. For decades IDA’s and Empire State Development have subsidized projects for tenants not otherwise disposed to leave the State of New York, to relocate from the urban centers out to affluent suburbs. Your predecessor, the Urban Development Corporation, generated one project during its era that being Audubon. Urban Development Corporation, charged with helping blighted urban areas, built Audubon in the most affluent suburb of Buffalo and relocated businesses from Buffalo and added to the blight of the City. How ridiculous is that.
Empire State Development has now been approached by a development group to put up $5 million for the “first phase” purchase and stabilization of the Statler Building which sits vacant in the core of our City. For the State to become involved in subsidizing the Statler to come back on to the market, in a piece meal, haphazard way, is unconscionable.
I personally support the warehousing and securing of the Statler Building in its present condition by State government at a cost which won’t exceed $500,000/year for security and minimum heat for 5 years or until such time as the market improves when an RFP would be put out for all qualified developers to bid on the building. Allowing the Statler to come on to the market in downtown Buffalo today would result in the destruction of the market by the creation of an unlevel playing field.
I submit to you that it is illegal under the State Constitution for the State of New York to loan or advance monies in any form to private firms. Article VII, Section 8, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution states: “the money of the State shall not be given or loaned to or in aid of any private corporation or association, or private undertaking; nor shall the credit of the State be given or loan to or in aid of any individual, or public or private corporation or association, or private undertaking, but the foregoing provision shall not apply to any fund or property now held or which may hereafter be held by the State for educational, mental health or mental retardation purposed.” The Section goes on to provide exceptions to the general rule of banning gifts of State funds to private organizations, but none of the exceptions authorizes the gift of State fund for “economic development” whose gifts are made directly by the State or through intermediaries.
That is the law of the land.
Our politically corrupt State government and its “challenged” elected officials through its various agencies and authorities has violated the Constitution repeatedly over the years.
There are ways for the State to have a positive affect on development which are never followed. The State certainly can take title to the Statler Building, maintain it best through a hired management company and then, when market conditions improve, RFP it onto the market in a bona fide, arms length manner.
Allowing one developer to have an advantage over other developers because of political connections is a violation of the law.
Very truly yours,
ELLICOTT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
Carl P. Paladino